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WEB EXTRA: Sen. McCaskill on "CBS This Morning" Previews Hearing on Sexual Assaults in Military

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) appeared on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday to discuss the upcoming hearing on sexual assaults in the military.  She favors creating a culture where victims are not afraid to come forward.  Watch her full interview in this WEB EXTRA.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Joint Chiefs of Staff are expecting a confrontation on Capitol Hill this morning.  Senators on the Armed Services Committee will be asking pointed questions about the rising numbers of sexual assaults in the military.

Nora O'Donnell:  "One of those Senators is Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri. She is with us now from Capitol Hill.  I know the Joint Chiefs are expecting to tell the the Armed Services Committee they do think commanders should stay in charge of dealing with these sexual assault cases.  Why should that be the case?"

Sen. McCaskill:  "We have to create an environment where the victims feel like they will be protected and they will get good information and that they can come forward without repercussion.  So I think its important that we consider leaving the convening authority in at the beginning of the process, because if the general says to go forward to trial, then that creates an environment where this victim feels like there is credibility that is being considered on her part.  So, I think we've got to take away their ability to overturn jury verdicts.  That's absolutely inappropriate.  But at the end of the day, this is about helping these victims come forward and getting these prosecutions and putting these cowards in prison."

O'Donnell:  "And Senators, I know that Defense Secretary Hagel has expressed support for your legislation.  It is different than Sen. (Kirsten) Gillibrand's legislation.  How then, do you address the concern that many women in the military are not reporting sexual assault because they don't want to go to their commander - their boss - who is in charge of their career?  Don't you have to change that process?"

Sen. McCaskill:  "First, Nora, I think it's a reality.  I handled these cases for a number of years in the courtroom as a prosecutor.  Most women don't want to come forward and talk about this crime.  This is common.  The issue is, will there be a place they can go, where they feel protected.  They do not have to go to the commander to report this crime.  They are never even required to make their report public.  Our bill will strengthen this network of people that will be in charge of talking to them as sexual assault professionals and counselors, victim advocates.  They are not required to report it to their commander.  Ultimately, the commander and the unit is going to know, if they are willing to go forward.  So the question is, how do we create the best environment for them to be willing to do that?"

   Charlie Rose:  "That's really the question - it's not so much the legal process, which is essential, but how do you change the culture."

Sen. McCaskill:  "And that's a problem for the military.  They're like 20 years behind.  They thought they could train their way out of this problem.  They thought this was a matter of just giving more information to their command.  You cannot train your way out of the problem.  These are predators.  They will strike again and again.  This has to be a focus of successful prosecution, not let's see if we can make this go away because it might make my unit look bad, but rather we've got to get these guys in a courtroom, convict them and put them away."

Gayle King:  "But Senator, how do you think it got this bad and this widespread in the U.S. military?"

Sen. McCaskill:  "Well, it's a combination of factors.  I think the military culture did not welcome these kinds of problems.  They didn't want this kind of disruption.  So it was easier for them to see that this was really not a big problem.  And women and men were saying, 'Why would I ever come forward?  It's personal and everybody's going to know about it the minute I come forward and I work with all these people.'
My bill allows the victim to move units.  They've always been about moving the victim.  Why why would you move the victim?  Move the perpetrator.  The victim's career should not be disrupted.  The perpetrator's should.  So, it's not just shifting the focus from 'this is a problem we have to get after.'  And I think a lot of the military gets that now."

RELATED:  Military Chiefs Oppose Removing Commanders From Sexual Assault Probes
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